Holiday Traditions

From Sweden to America…

Best things about Christmas and holidays are traditions that carry meaning and create memories for generations.

Baking with friends, watching carolers.. are some of our faves 😊 

Whipped up some matcha cookies!

Peanut butter chocolate melting snowmen. Trying to decorate these will definitely entertain you – try it!!

Mix was the easy part!


Klicha – our traditional spicy sweet for Christmas time made the whole house smell cozy and ‘love’! 

We kicked back after an entire day of baking — adoring the tree and magic of friendship, traditions, and holiday.  
Happy Holidays!!!

Holiday Gifting Edition

20131110-094133.jpg
We decided to share with you some of our favorite Holiday Gifting ideas. This is usually a wonderful time of the year but also possibly the most stressful – as many try to shop for gifts and worry about giving/not giving.

Giving starts with true care and knowing the people you are giving to. Some of the best things we received were not material gifts at all. Last year, one of the best gifts I received was a lavender eye pillow made by my good friend using lavender from her garden and stitching the pillow herself.

With a few ideas we hope to reduce your stress and make this a great year of giving:

1. Hosting a dinner or potluck
What can be more cozy and fun – we are social creatures. Giving from your time and opening your home to your friends is a great gift in itself.

2. Hand Made
Never gets old to make some of the gifts you are giving. In the process of it, you will even figure out who you care enough to handmade something for or not. We made ceramic owls this year for our nearest and dearest ones; some as desk ornaments an some hanging. See a few examples here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaBote

3. Care Baskets
This a new one for us. This year we are making care baskets filled with easy goodies to give for friends in need. Here are some of the items: gas card, crackers, cheese, fruits, home made cookies,… give practical things that will help them stretch their budget.

For more ideas, we have compiled some of our favorite sites:

For the Artist
Give a gift certificate to a local art studio.

art supplies:
http://www.dickblick.com/

prints and other:
http://fab.com

For the Foodie
Give a gift certificate for a local cooking class.

http://fab.com

http://chefscatalog.com

For the Humanitarian
First, if you can, give to legitimate charities in your city.

Second, do global good, give to legitimate charities that help humanity globally.

For the Fashion Lover

http://fab.com

http://shopbop.com/ci/4/lp/holiday-gift-guide.html

For the Person who has Everything
Surprise them and give them a hug!

Quality always wins over quantity, both for gifts and friends. Giving is not about giving a lot of stuff, it’s in giving meaningfully.
Happy giving!

20131110-094149.jpg

Shrimp a la Vicky style

20130106-234342.jpg
So I just had the last Christmas party of 2012. Yes, this year my dance group decided to have our annual party after the holidays.

We do a cozy potluck style party every year. This year I had a hard time deciding what to cook; but my dance teacher Vicky came to rescue. She is a Greek firecracker, dance teacher, life guru, animal lover, loyal friend, great cook, composer, … and I love her. She gave me this recipe and everyone loved it tonight. Epharisto Vickymu!!

Here is the recipe:

  • 2 pounds of deveined organic shrimp
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • handful of sundried tomatoes (this is my improv, you don’t have to use it if you don’t like sundried stuff)
  • organic feta (crumble it by hand)
  • salt, oregano, black pepper (in quantities you like)
  • olive oil (I use a lot, use as little as you like)
  • Coarsely chop the onions and tomatoes. In a pan pour olive oil and lightly sauté the onion, then add the sundried tomatoes – stir for a minute, then add the fresh tomatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. In the meantime heat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Wash the shrimp in cold water and let it drain. Prepare a large oven dish/pan – I used a rectangular pyrex dish. Pour the sautéed mix at the bottom, then add the shrimp and seasoning.
    20130106-231452.jpgMix it all and add half a cup of water. Drizzle with some olive oil. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 5 minutes (watch carefully, don’t overcook the shrimp).
    20130106-232619.jpgTake the shrimp out of the oven and cover the top with crumbled feta. Use as much as you like, I prefer a light coverage. Turn on the broiler on high, put the dish back in the oven till you see feta melt and pieces are golden.
    20130106-233150.jpg
    This dish is a great appetizer as well as a hefty side dish. If you are a seafood lover you will enjoy this super easy to make healthy dish. Bon Appetit !!

    A Delicate Surprise

    20121226-205022.jpg
    This Christmas I received a surprise gift from my friend Julie. She gave me a bundle of foods she made herself. A cute tub of chicken liver pâté, bacon jam, accompanied with herve mons blue de sassenage cheese and a whole wheat baguette.

    I dare say they are gourmet quality if not better and fresher. What a great gift to give someone… I can taste the care and love she put into making these goodies. By the way there should have been a warning: this bacon jam is addictive, and I don’t happen to be a bacon lover. The pâté is delicate and velvety, a smooth delight; great with a little cheese and bread, organic strawberry and crisp cubes Asian pear. A slightly chilled glass of Pinot Grigio and some sparkling water completed my food journey.
    20121226-210824.jpg
    We have a saying in Turkish that we use when we really like someone’s food – ‘ellerine sağlık’ roughly means health to your hands.
    So I raise my glass to you my friend… Ellerine sağlık!

    The Art of Cards

    20121225-222322.jpg
    As I received a few holiday cards, I could not help but admire how some cards were so thoughtfully crafted. I was surprised only because at this digital age where people break up via texting – we don’t expect to really receive cards. Grateful that I still know people who care to handwrite a lovely card.

    Pictured above is a card that I just received, hand made by a friend; a simple stitch across the card and few snow flakes. This is the kind of card I will keep for a few years. I admit I occasionally write cards these days – but it’s due to being more selective. No need to send cards to people who will not care. That is a waste of good energy only to get sucked into a black hole. One of the paper companies I admire is the Winged Wheel. Just love their process, design, service, and quality. Wish I had more reasons to write cards so I would keep buying their paper works of art.

    I hope you also received at least a few cute and thoughtful cards this season.

    Holiday Treats: Mandel Bollar

    20121222-195711.jpg
    Mandel Bollar, a Swedish favorite cookie is perfect for this time of year. So easy to make, delicious to eat, and looks great. Reminds me of snow and represents the magic of the season (pictured above the peanut butter cups). Here is the recipe – make it and enjoy it with your loved ones!

  • 200 grams mandelmasa (sweet almond paste
  • 200 grams butter (room temperature, soft)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg white to brush on top
  • almond flakes to roll the balls in
  • Mash the butter until it is smooth. Grate the almond paste (medium sized side of grate). Mix the two ingredients, add the flour and mix further. Roll the dough as a log – chill in the fridge for an hour. Cut the log into 40 equal pieces – roll into balls. Brush the tops with egg yolk, and roll in almond flakes.

    Preheat oven to 175 degrees and bake the almond balls for only 10 minutes. Do not overcook.

    Bon Appetit!

    Weather’s surprise… & end of the world

    A business trip to NY turned into a brief nightmare when weather turned bad at our destination. Flight cancellation had me and 2 coworkers scrambling to find a way to get home. As other people are worried about the world ending tomorrow and hunkering down in Sirince, Turkey here we are flying to a weird destination and driving. As we made alternate plans started accepting the fact and mother nature’s surprise for us we started relaxing. We are now experts in Laguardia airport, booking and rerouting flights, hotels, rental cars, finding chargers for devices and anything you can think of. This picture I took at Bryant Park became my reminder of ‘all will be OK’. In a funny way despite circumstances we are now enjoying ourselves. We even said ‘what an adventure!’. Now that’s what I call good attitude.

    Flowing with life is better than swimming against it!
    20121220-181744.jpg

    Organic Liquorice anyone!

    I would like to share new tastes that surprised me!

    This is yummiest liquorice I have ever had and I was very surprised that it was also organic; this is for sure healthy. I can’t stop eating and eating. Knowing that it’s organic makes me feel ‘guilt free’ or at least it sounds better. I wish I could visit Oliv & Te Delikatesser shop in Sweden — it’s little heaven for organic, fair trade delicious things but I will share more delicious things that I had from this nice Delikatesser.

    Image

    Holiday Surprises – make some real memories!

    20121216-111121.jpg
    This holiday season make some real time with people you really care about. That is the best gift you can give yourself. I baked the above dessert with my dear friend Melanie – and even took this picture together. We surprised ourselves at what a good time we had. Truly being in each other’s presence, baking and laughing, sharing stories from 2012. So stop running around from store to store to buy more stuff that probably you or others don’t need. Spend that time to connect with people in your life – and I don’t mean messaging them on facebook. I chose to bake since its an activity we both love – choose your own activity, whatever that is. What we all really need is to make real memories that nourish our inner being.

    So go ahead give yourself a gift of time and a real memory this holiday!

    (Recipe coming soon – Graham Cracker Almond Coconut Delight)